The Economist has a nice piece on Ray Dalio discussing this perspective of the world and what he refers to as the economic “machine”. In the piece he is cited as describing the two types of credit cycles:
“Two sorts of credit cycle are at the heart of Mr Dalio’s economic model: the business cycle, which typically lasts five to eight years, and a long-term (“long wave”) debt cycle, which can last 50-70 years. A business cycle usually ends in a recession, because the central bank raises the interest rate, reducing borrowing and demand. The debt cycle ends in deleveraging because there is a “shortage of capable providers of capital and/or a shortage of capable recipients of capital (borrowers and sellers of equity) that cannot be rectified by the central bank changing the cost of money.” Business cycles happen often, they are well understood and policymakers are fairly adept at managing them. A debt cycle tends to come along in a country once in a lifetime, tends to be poorly understood and is often mishandled by policymakers.
An ordinary recession can be ended by the central bank lowering the interest rate again. A deleveraging is much harder to end. According to Mr Dalio, it usually requires some combination of debt restructurings and write-offs, austerity, wealth transfers from rich to poor and money-printing. A “beautiful deleveraging” is one in which all these elements combine to keep the economy growing at a nominal rate that is higher than the nominal interest rate. (Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Mr Dalio expects America’s GDP growth to average only 2% over a 15-year period.)”
These are good thoughts. One of the main reasons we started MR was to bring some balance back to the focus on the horizontal money level and specifically credit. As regular readers know I am keenly aware of the credit cycle and its impact in this particular cycle resulting in the balance sheet recession. It’s important to understand that the credit markets and the tapping of credit markets is what primarily drives the business cycle. And as we know from the recent crisis it can at times get wildly out of control. Understanding Dalio’s broad perspective here will help you grasp these important concepts.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.
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